Special to The Sun
MOORE — Edmond Memorial pulled off one big win Saturday afternoon at the Class 6A state volleyball tournament. Just a few hours later, the Lady Bulldogs nearly had another.
After eliminating rival North in the semifinals, the Memorial girls pushed defending state champion Bishop Kelley to the brink but couldn’t pull out another upset at Westmoore High School. The top-ranked Comets overcame a 2-1 deficit to earn their sixth consecutive state title, and second straight in 6A.
“I’m hurting right now, I know the whole team is hurting, but we’ll live,” senior McKenna Qualls said. “There is another game to fight. There are more games to play in the future.”
The No. 3 Lady ‘Dogs came right at the champs from the start. With the help of dominant play at the net, Memorial breezed to a 25-13 win in opening set. Olivia Schiffner, Lindsay Roy and Qualls came up with several big points for the first-set win.
Bishop Kelley returned the favor in the next, but Memorial brought more heat in the third. The Lady ‘Dogs rallied from set point to earn a 27-25 victory. Kristen Macy and Qualls drove home the final two points for the 2-1 lead in the match.
But the third set victory would never come for Memorial. Bishop Kelley again evened the score with a 25-20 win in the fourth, and wrestled away the state title in the tiebreaker, winning 15-12.
“I think we caught Bishop Kelley off guard at first, we showed all of our cards and won big because of it,” Memorial head coach Natalie Murray said. “And they started figuring out that they were going to have to play a lot harder to get the win. Once it became a fight on both sides, we didn’t know which way it was going to go.”
Bishop Kelley beat Memorial last year in the state semifinals and won all three meetings this year. But the state championship loss was by far the closest.
“This was such a great performance by our girls,” Murray said. “We have played Bishop Kelley three times this year. The first time they shut us out, the second time we took one game off them, and this one could have gone either way. This is the best our girls have played all year.”
Santa Fe also advanced to the state semifinals with a 3-1 win against Stillwater Friday afternoon at Shawnee High School. The Lady Wolves then ran into Bishop Kelley in the semifinals, losing 3-0.
North and Memorial then took the floor for an Edlam showdown in the other semifinal game. The Lady ‘Dogs, who lost to North twice this year, eliminated their rivals with a 3-1 win Saturday afternoon.
“I wish we could have won (state), but honestly all I wanted to do today was to beat North and we pulled that off,” Qualls said.